“Last weekend we heard the very sad news that the world had lost Bobby Charlton. I was very privileged to have met him twice. He was every bit the true gentleman, warm and humble, as the many public tributes have described. The first time we met was in 1992 when I was working in Singapore. The extracts below are taken from a company magazine which told the story:”
Brian Burgess, former BU Chair, 2002 to 2007 and Brentford FC director, 2006 and 2007, thought he was dreaming when he was asked to play in a team alongside a number of former World Cup stars including England heroes Bobby Charlton, Martin Peters and Geoff Hurst back in 1992.
Brian who is standing third from the right on the back row of this international veterans team, was then “Global Gas” area manager in Singapore. “If it wasn’t for the photographs, I would be sure I had been dreaming – except, of course, had I been dreaming, I would have scored a hat-trick,” said Brian. Brian received the surprise offer from Bobby Charlton – whose soccer schools in the UK were sponsored by BG who called in to see the new Global Gas office in Singapore.
Bobby was there for a charity match and for the Singapore Cricket Club veterans seven-a-side soccer tournament. His team of ex-International Euro-All Stars were short of a second substitute and when Bobby heard that Brian still played soccer in a veterans’ league at home, he asked him to join the squad.
“My football boots were still in transit from England, so he gave me a new pair from the sponsors,” said Brian. “The tournament took place over two days. I played one game in the qualifying league on the first day, when ex-Dutch international, Rene Van de Kerhkok, rested a muscle strain.
“It was a marvellous experience to be in the same team as Pat Jennings, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Gerry Armstrong, Tony Woodcock and Bobby Charlton himself”.
The team went on to win the tournament, watched by a crowd of about 4,000.
Brian received a winner’s medal and some wonderful autographs and he kept his new boots!
“About 10 years later we met at a non-matchday event at Macclesfield Football Club, where I was among the guests attending the launch of a community project “Its a Goal” set up to help young men dealing with depression. This was a very early, innovative, example of clubs using the power of football to reach vulnerable people in local communities. Bobby Charlton believed in such projects and was happy to support them in his quiet, unassuming way.